Radiation Treatment for Skin Cancer: Sensus SRT100+ and other What are the advantages of Radiation? Should All Skin Cancers be Treated with Radiation Therapy?No! In general, most skin cancers are treated surgically by excision, electrodessication and curettage, Mohs' micrographic Surgery, or using topical creams. Radiation is generally reserved for the elderly or those who cannot undergo surgery due to medications or other medical conditions.Patients that do not meet that criteria may be able to be treated with radiation, but one must be careful of the longterm side effects that take decades to develop. For this reason, radiation is usually reserved for those who are older adults.What is Radiation Therapy?When radiation therapy is used to treat basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, Merkel Cell Carcinoma, and other skin cancers, a machine sends focused rays onto the tumor and a small area of surrounding skin. This type of radiation is known as "external radiotherapy."For skin cancers, the radiation used does not go deep into the skin and is called low-energy X-rays or electron beam radiation. Is Radiation Better than Mohs' Surgery?Yes and No. It depends on what is most important to the patient.Cure rate:Mohs has a slightly higher cure rate, but both are excellent.Convenience: Mohs' is usually completed in one day, including the reconstruction. The procedure can take as little as 60 minutes or the entire day. Radiation takes many visits (average 12-20) that take only a few minutes. Most will receive treatments twice a week.Cost: Radiation costs at least three times as much as Mohs surgery, and in many cases it is over ten times the cost of Mohs surgery. When Mohs' surgery is performed in a medical office, as opposed to a hospital or ambulatory surgical center that may be in an office, it is much less expensive, as one does not have to incur any facility fees or anesthesia costs that can cost thousands.Comfort:Radiation is painless during treatment. Skin irritation (acute radiation dermatitis) may occur and last several weeks after treatment. Mohs' surgery requires local anesthesia (numbing with needles) and there may be some discomfort after the procedure, which is usually very mild.Final Cosmetic Result: Radiation will often have a very good appearance just a couple months after the treatments have been completed. Sometimes the skin can be slightly depressed or slightly pink. The final result after Mohs is dependent upon the reconstructive surgery and that patient's own ability to heal.Hair Loss:Radiation will result in permanent hair loss in the local area treated. It does NOT result in hair loss anywhere else. To make it even more clear: the area where the cancer is will lose hair and no where else will be affected. For this reason, it is not recommended to treat the eyebrow, beard (in men), and scalp unless the patient does not mind permanently losing hair in that area. Radiation Treatment of Squamous Cell Carcinoma Radiation Treatment of Basal Cell CarcinomaRadiation has been used to treat skin cancers for many decades. This is not new. There are no "new" machines that selectively destroy cancer cells. There are three different types of radiation used and all have cure rate of approximately 97% for tumors that have not been treated before. One type of radiation is not necessarily "better" than the other, but different.Why are we hearing so much about radiation treatments for skin cancer today?That's simple.Have you seen advertisements on television? These machines are expensive and the treatments are expensive. Now, Dermatologists are performing these treatments in their offices so more and more patients are receiving this type of therapy.The number of patients treated with radiation has gone up tremendously. Is that bad? Yes and no. Radiation is usually reserved for those who are late-middle aged or elderly who are not good surgical candidates or do not wish to undergo surgery. Now we are seeing younger patients being treated, and this can be a problem decades later.How does a cancer heal after radiation?Healing can be excellent, although 12 or more treatment sessions are usually needed, depending upon the depth of the tumor, the site, and the dosage of radiation given. Most treatments take only several minutes and are painless.Unfortunately many patients develop skin irritation during or, more commonly, immediately following completion of all of the treatments. This irritation, called radiation dermatitis, can take several weeks or even months to resolve.What is the cure rate for radiation therapy of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma?The cure rate for radiation for the treatment of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma is as high as 97%.Our Radiation Center will be opening in September 2022. Unlike other dermatology offices, we will have an Ivy-League Trained, Board-Certified Radiation Oncologist on staff to ensure that our patients receive the best possible care. We spare no expense for our patients!